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Slippery When Wet!

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Slippery When Wet!

Old 10-13-20, 06:21 AM
  #1  
qrtzoj
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Slippery When Wet!

A few weeks ago I learned the hard way about slippery footbridges.


My accident took place on the Northwest Lancaster County, Pa River Trail, which like many rail-trails is mostly paved. This trail also has quite a few footbridges made out of metal and wood or perhaps that manmade decking material. A few weeks ago I was riding early Sunday morning after it had rained some the night before. The trail itself was fine and I knew that I had to be mindful of slippery wet leaves especially with all the curves in this trail but didn't take into account the bridges. Most of them are only slightly inclined but there is one adjacent to the Marietta Boat Club that is maybe 10 or 15˚ as it goes down on one side. As is typical there's a pole at the end which I swerved to go around as you normally would but my front wheel lost traction on the wet decking and down I went onto the path. My right knee and elbow get scraped up but it's my wrists, mainly the left one, that took the brunt of the impact. Luckily I had a scarf in my bag which I used to stop what bleeding there was. The chain on my Trek DS3 was knocked off but the bike itself didn't sustain much of any damage. After licking my wounds for a few minutes and collecting my shock and anger I walked the bike back over the bridge, reset the chain, and then rode back to my car but could only use my right hand which hurt less than the left. The X-ray revealed that nothing was broken thankfully, it was just a bad sprain, and hopefully, I'll be able to ride again this weekend. The bike is just a year old and the tires still have a lot of meat on them and were at around 40psi.


The moral of this long story is, be careful on those bridges in wet conditions!

Last edited by qrtzoj; 10-13-20 at 06:25 AM.
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Old 10-13-20, 06:34 AM
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glad you're okay. reminder to all to slow down in the fall with leaves, bridges and wet conditions
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Old 10-13-20, 06:41 AM
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Crossed the river to Columbia last month during a tour across PA. Think I saw that trail beneath me.


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Old 10-13-20, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by qrtzoj View Post
...manmade decking material...
I have walked on a few wet decks made from "manmade decking material" and it is unreasonably slick. I would not want to ride a bike over this stuff when it is wet.
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Old 10-13-20, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Crossed the river to Columbia last month during a tour across PA. Think I saw that trail beneath me.


Yes, the trail begins in Columbia and ends in Bainbridge. If you ever have the chance to come back here, it's a real nice trail but go early before the casual riders and walkers show up in strength.
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Old 10-13-20, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by qrtzoj View Post
Yes, the trail begins in Columbia and ends in Bainbridge. If you ever have the chance to come back here, it's a real nice trail but go early before the casual riders and walkers show up in strength.
I can imagine. I crossed on a sunny Saturday and could see a number of people despite a lingering chill in the air. Iíll bet it got crowded when things warmed up more.
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Old 10-13-20, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I have walked on a few wet decks made from "manmade decking material" and it is unreasonably slick. I would not want to ride a bike over this stuff when it is wet.
That stuff is often used on MUPs and such, as it is low-maintenance. But I have noticed that, especially in wet and shady areas, wet moss or lichen grows on it, and that stuff is sliiick. I know a couple riders who have crashed hard on that stuff on the path at a local state park.

Best to hit those bridges straight-on, don't turn and don't brake on them. Moderate speed.
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Old 10-13-20, 07:07 PM
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Ouch. Hope everything heals quickly.
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Old 10-13-20, 07:18 PM
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Thank you, the scrapes have scabbed over with no infections, and while my left wrist still hurts I plan on going out back on the trail this weekend, weather permitting of course!
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Old 10-13-20, 07:40 PM
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What kind of tires?
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Old 10-13-20, 09:46 PM
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For cyclists, they sure named the season following summer correctly. Leaves are not your friend. Can hide a bunch of stuff that disagrees with your tires. And wet leaves? Especially on wooden bridges? ...More evil than an ex wife.
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Old 10-14-20, 04:51 AM
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^^^^^ Just like on a motorcycle. Just like black ice and loose gravel. Chop the power, pull the clutch and coast straight across. No turns.
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Old 10-14-20, 08:51 AM
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There's a boardwalk in our region and that boardwalk runs over a marsh. It's canted quite a bit to one side and in the morning when the dew is on the pressure treated lumber surface it's like trying to ride on grease.Nearly impossible to stay upright on a bicycle. Studded tires help a lot. LOL

Cheers
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Old 10-15-20, 10:57 AM
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Old 10-15-20, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
For cyclists, they sure named the season following summer correctly. Leaves are not your friend. Can hide a bunch of stuff that disagrees with your tires. And wet leaves? Especially on wooden bridges? ...More evil than an ex wife.
Add to that a touch of frost on the wood early in the morning
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Old 10-15-20, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by DDzBike View Post
Add to that a touch of frost on the wood early in the morning
so many ways to interpret...
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Old 10-16-20, 09:43 AM
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The thing I always worry most about when riding in the wet here in Shanghai is road paint. They use a particularly slippery when wet paint for road markings here, and it's definitely not 2-wheel vehicle friendly. I'm always incredibly cautious about braking and turning when riding over painted markings (particularly crosswalks, given that they use the British style zebra crossing markings here which are very large areas of paint) in the wet.
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Old 10-16-20, 01:39 PM
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Even in good conditions, I find each bridge on MUP trails has its own challenges, abrupt (right angle) change in grade of up to 6", unusual surfaces, interesting tire grabbing cracks and grooves, no railings, etc.
That said, I discovered on an ordinary road that the bridges really do freeze before the road surface; collar bone is still broken.
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Old 08-29-21, 04:41 PM
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Actually it wasn't manmade after all, just good old wood made slippery thanks to wet leaves and a somewhat inattentive rider.

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Old 08-29-21, 05:07 PM
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Wet wood is a nightmare. Some sort of moisture-absorbing mold grows in a thin layer, and it is slicker than oiled ice.

The plastic "boards" are no better. If I have to ride planking, I go v e r y slow and absolutely straight. I try not to pedal if I can coast across. I am not at all ashamed to get off and walk---I have more dignity pushing my bike and walking than I do pushing my broken bike while holding a broken collarbone and walking.

Leaves on wet wood are even worse and leaves on wood? that is a foot path.

As @the_Chemist notes, wet paint is equally slick, particularly when it is newish and thick. For a while I commuted daily in a city with a long rainy season and learned all about scaring myself on paint.

Glad you bounced back, qrtzoj .
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Old 08-30-21, 10:37 AM
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Wet metal is the worst for bike tires, though.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:54 AM
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we don't like bollards. Wifey broke her wrist crashing into one. glad yours is just a bad sprain
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Old 08-30-21, 12:16 PM
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Glad to hear the OP is on the mend. I sympathize with him - I broke 2 ribs on a bridge last fall. Not wet - long story for another time . . .

I find that a big hazard is the transition from trail to bridge. That strip of metal or wood is usually not even with either the trail or the deck. To make it worse, the trail surface often settles. The result is a severe bump that you need to hit straight on or it will toss you off line. This can be a bit sticky as several bridges have a curved approach.

Several bridges on the local trails are steeply arched like something you would find in a Japanese garden. Pretty, but no fun to ride over. There is no smooth transition - the arch starts abruptly and there is no hope of coasting across. You need to shift down and pedal hard - then you have the sharp downslope that may have a quick turn or rough transiton. A couple are short but have a steep arch and no railings.

These trail are heavily wooded, so wet leaves in fall add to the problem.

Like rumrunn, I hate the posts. My mind tells me there is plenty of room, but . . . .

And as the pix shows, bridges seem to be wonderful spots to rest, take pix, fish, etc.
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Old 08-30-21, 12:32 PM
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OP glad you are for the most part, OK.

Good reminder to us all that swerving around an object, especially in slick conditions, is never a good idea. Always look way down the road, heads-up, and do not stare at what you want to avoid, but where you want to go. Prepare your line in advance. Same goes for driving.
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Old 08-30-21, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
we don't like bollards. Wifey broke her wrist crashing into one. glad yours is just a bad sprain
I hate bollards. Local town near me has a walking/riding trail with not one, but two bollards on each end of each bridge on the trail, making it even more narrow to ride between. It's a stupid way to keep vehicles off the bridges when just one bollard in the middle would have been fine.

Last edited by Milton Keynes; 08-30-21 at 03:42 PM.
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